I realize this is old news, but it makes me very, very happy.
That’s Journey, performing at Festival Viña del Mar in Chile, one of Latin America’s most popular music festivals. That’s not Steve Perry behind the mike, or Steve Augeri, or Jeff Scott Solo. It’s Arnel Pineda, who’s had a long career in the Filipino music scene, singing both his own material and covers from the American soft rock canon. Journey’s guitarist Neal Schoen was frustrated that his band was without a lead singer. It’s unclear whether he was influenced by Mark Wahlberg vehicle “Rock Star”, but he started listening to Journey cover bands, looking for a new singer.
On YouTube, he found the above video, which features Pineda fronting The Zoo, a Manila-based band known for 80’s soft rock covers and for their original tracks. Impressed with Pineda’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Steve Perry, Schoen contacted Pineda’s friend, who’d posted the videos to YouTube. He, in turn, contacted Pineda, who predictably thought he was the victim of a prank. Eventually persuaded, he flew to the US for a two-day audition and now fronts the band.
My hope for the internet is that it blurs the idea of nationality, letting people find the most talented collaborators around the world, regardless of their language, culture or national origin. Most of the time, this doesn’t happen – homophily reigns. It’s worth celebrating those moments when ageing America rockers realize that hooking up with a honey-voiced Filipino is the perfect path forward.
Oh, and for all you bands performing Joy Division in the style of Tuvan throat singing – don’t stop believing.